7 Ages on Memorial Day
I showed up about 10:15 to find Brian, John, and Mike ready and waiting, and by 11:00 we had the game setup, a brief rules summary under our belt, and we were on our way. We played till 4:30 with a break for lunch. For these monster games, I think this is the right way to teach: brief rule summary, then learn by doing.
I'll let the other guys chime in with details of our session.
As a brief summary, I like this game on balance. The fun part for me is watching the rise and fall of various empires. "Civilizing" your empire is one of the most fun things in the game, and at least as important as battles. I think this is a game where the pleasure is in the playing, although it was very disheartening to lose by more than a factor of 2. *sigh* Still, I killed Brian's Alexander the Great with my Attila the Hun, and that ain't bad.
My biggest complaint is that I don't understand the tactics of combat, but that's not really the game's fault. At the end of the game I finally understood the mechanics, but I had big stacks of buys wiped out several times. While I don't understand the tactics, the mechanics are kind of interesting with a 'fatigue' thing involved.
Other complaints are secondary to the pleasure of watching the game unfold. Is it more fun than 4-5 euros added together (same play time)? Not everyday, but once in a while, yeah I think it is. Some pleasures can only be attained after a significant committment.
I think 3-5 players is the right # for this game. 2 players would each have 7 empires, and I wouldn't be able to handle that. 6-7 players always gets very chaotic. 3 or 5 might be more "fair" because there are 15 colors available for empires. With 4 players, 3 players have 4 empires and the last guy only has 3. While this isn't 'fair,' I like the tension of trying to get that last one, even though I spent most of the game w/ only 3.
Overall, a really fun way to spend Memorial Day. Thanks to Brian for bringing the game w/ player aids, teaching us, and also for suggesting it early enough that I could schedule it with my wife. Thanks also to John, and Michael for playing.